Iraq's Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden

By Edward L. Ochsenschlager | Go to book overview

13
VILLAGE WEAVERS

Among the modern villagers in this area, only sheep wool is regularly used for spinning and weaving. All of the weaving and related crafts in the village are practiced solely by women except for spinning and twisting thread into yarn for very specific purposes such as making slings, fishnets, and braided or twisted cords.


Preparation for Spinning

If they are especially dirty, the short-wool sheep are washed, usually in the running water of a canal, with a soap made from the ashes of a reed fire mixed with oil and clean mud (mud as uncontaminated as possible with organic debris). This preparation is also used as soap for other cleaning purposes. Sheep are then shorn with a pair of shears, and the fleece is rolled up for later use. When the time comes to prepare the wool for spinning, the fleece is opened to remove burrs and sticks, and if the woven work is to be special, to chose which parts of the fleece to use. For very fine work the wool from the back and the sides of the sheep is considered the best. If the wool is still not clean enough it is washed once more in the running water of the canal. Among the Bedouin, the wool is sometimes washed in a urine bath if running water is in short supply, and then further combed and teased by hand.

The village women pass the locks of clean wool through a comb with sharp iron teeth set in a wooden paddle to form a roving. Wool is salvaged from a dead sheep by plucking, but this wool is carefully segregated, sold, but never used for rugs or carpets by the villagers.

-216-

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Iraq's Marsh Arabs in the Garden of Eden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface and Acknowledgments vii
  • 1 - In the Garden of Eden 1
  • 2 - The People of Al-Hiba 13
  • 3 - Ways and Means 34
  • 4 - Mud Household Utensils and Storage Containers 45
  • 5 - Mud Musical Instruments, Toys, Jewelry, and Ammunition 74
  • 6 - Mud Architecture and Ancillary Structures 95
  • 7 - Baked Pottery 111
  • 8 - Mats, Baskets, and Other Objects Made from Reeds and Rushes 129
  • 9 - Reed Architecture 145
  • 10 - Wood, Boats, and Bitumen 170
  • 11 - Bovine Husbandry 190
  • 12 - Sheep 203
  • 13 - Village Weavers 216
  • 14 - The Photographs of John Henry Haynes 251
  • 15 - Death under Glass 270
  • Index 281
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